Bangkok has seen a glut of coffee shops in recent years, so much so that wherever you roam in this vibrant metropolis, you’re no more than a stone’s throw from a Starbucks or a themed cafe in Bangkok. With the wealth of cute or artisanal Bangkok cafe options on offer, it’s hard to pick out the definitive best cafe in Bangkok. Although Bangkok’s coffee scene is still not as renowned worldwide as that of countries in Latin America or Africa, Thailand is beginning to innovate and experiment with their own coffee beans, especially in Chiang Mai.
Of course, the attraction of the Bangkok cafe is not just in the coffee, but in their other drinks, in the ambiance or specific theme, in the food, and of course, the availability of free air-conditioning and Wi-Fi. While the array of available options is often overwhelming for the first-time (or even long-term) visitor, there are a few Bangkok cafe branches that stand out from the crowd and have become a household name to Bangkok denizens. The many Starbucks Bangkok branches are, of course, inextricably linked with the cafe scene in the city, but other coffee hangouts such as Roots Coffee, the Chocolab Bangkok branch, and the Gallery Drip Coffee shop have also entrenched themselves in the Bangkok cultural zeitgeist.
When finding the best cafe in Bangkok, you should first decide how that is defined. Is it the coffee shops that roast beans to perfection, the shop with the most welcoming ambiance, or are you looking for a themed cafe in Bangkok; one of the many that have cropped up in recent years? Or perhaps you’re looking for more area-specific coffee shops that give you a mix of all three and are conveniently near your hotel of choice? For example, Roots Coffee is known to most Bangkok city-slickers as a trendy coffee shop with a focus on local coffee beans and blends. It’s an obvious choice if you’re looking for any good coffee shop Silom has on offer. Roots Coffee at Sathorn is known for its contemporary wooden décor and modern ambiance, while its branch in Thong lo in The Commons is a vibrant hangout popular with expats. However, its popularity often means that the cafe sees more than its fair share of visitors throughout the day.
The many Starbucks Bangkok branches are of course another obvious choice. It’s not a rare sight to see young professionals or students parked at a table with their laptops while sipping on the caffeinated drink of their choice. However, coffee connoisseurs often look for more than the safe predictability of the Starbucks menu and cafe aesthetics. A much more innovative option, Gallery Drip Coffee is an amalgamation of an art gallery and a cafe. From the avant-garde ceiling installation, reminiscent of a bee hive, to the black-and-white murals, to the artwork on sale, it’s almost a salon of bygone times where art aficionados can discuss their artistic passions. Nevertheless, located on the ground floor of the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre, it’s often a far way to travel, especially for those looking for a coffee shop Silom area or thereabouts.
In that region, Chocolab, located in the five-star SO/ Bangkok luxury hotel, is a name that has gained much acclaim in recent years. More than just a themed cafe in Bangkok or yet another coffee shop Silom is dotted with, Chocolab Bangkok offers many of the criteria that one looks for when thinking of the best cafe in Bangkok. Firstly, it serves premium Illy coffee, which consists of roasts from Italy with a focus on Espresso blends. Secondly, its ambiance is truly one of a kind. Clad in dark wood and glass, with atmospheric lighting and inventive installations, the space whisks you away to a dark fantasyland where enchantments can happen before your very eyes. Although a trite comparison, it evokes the fantastical wonder of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: guests can watch expert chocolatiers through the glass as they create exquisite concoctions that seem to be the work of dark magic, although the only sorcery they hold is that of dark chocolate.
However, Chocolab’s virtues don’t end there. It’s only a few minutes from Lumpini Park, one of Bangkok’s largest and most well-known green spaces that is open to the public. The park’s lush verdure and view of its artificial lake make it popular with joggers both in the morning and evening, and many choose to make the inspired decision to stop by Chocolab Bangkok afterwards for a morning pick-me-up or an evening wind-down. Because of Chocolab’s easy access to the Lumpini station of Bangkok’s sprawling MRT train system, the cafe is easily accessible even to those who don’t live in the area, and its dramatic ambiance and menu variety make it worth a trip, even from across the city.
The menu itself holds a profusion of delights; too many to sample in one visit…or even ten. Beyond the traditional coffee beverages served in most cafes, Chocolab provides a lavish assortment of teas, milkshakes, fruit drinks, chocolate beverages, and even cocktails for that indulgent after-work tipple. The variety is far more than one can find in any of the Starbucks Bangkok branches or coffee-focused cafes. Moreover, Chocolab’s bountiful menu doesn’t stop there. True to its name, it’s a workshop of scrumptious chocolate creations, from their melt-in-your-mouth Chocolate fondue, to their sinful Chocolate moisty cake to the novel Chocolab cracking ball which requires a light tap with a hammer before you can get to the goodies inside. But chocolate isn’t the only name of the game. Other cake and dessert options abound, including an ornate Warm apple tart that looks too good to eat. For those who want a break from the surfeit of sweetness, a variety of paninis are available as a palate cleanser between dessert courses.
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